Friday, April 17, 2009

Art Institute Technology Staff Expands

Jason Diehl, Academic Director for Web Design & Interactive Media at The Art Institute of California - Inland Empire. Chris Sloan photo.

(SAN BERNARDINO Calif.) “We’re looking forward to hearing great things about the Web Design & Interactive Media program in the months and years to come,” said Dean of Academic Affairs Jerry Foust of The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire.

Why? Jason Diehl was recently promoted to Academic Director for Web Design & Interactive Media after five years as an instructor at The Art Institute of California - Orange County and a year with the San Bernardino operation.

Diehl is a Northern California native, born in Santa Clara and raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains town of Ben Lomand. In 1988 he moved southward, ultimately settling in the Inland Empire. In the mid-‘90s the lure of the booming technology industry was too much, and Diehl put his college career on hold, working instead as a Web Applications developer focusing on e-commerce, distance education technology and game design. His clients at the time included the Lexus Motor Corporation, Warner Bros. Studios and Roadrunner Cable.

At California State University, Fullerton Diehl completed his B.A. in American Studies, and then earned his Master’s of Business Administration in Information Science from Argosy University - Orange County.

In July of 2003 that Diehl was hired as a fulltime instructor at The Art Institute of California - Orange County, transferring to the Inland Empire in October 2007.

“We’re proud of Jason’s contributions to The Art Institute over the past six years,” Foust says in announcing Diehl’s advancement. “Both students and staff will benefit greatly from this move.”

It’s not too late to start your college career. Courses begin May 18, offering day, evening and weekend classes for new and reentry students. For details or a tour of the campus call (909) 915-2100, or go on line to

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Culinary Management, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design, Fashion Design and Retail Management, and Media Arts & Animation. There are also Associate of Science degrees in Graphic Design and Culinary Arts. Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.

The Art Institute of California-Inland Empire is one of The Art Institutes (, a system of over 40 education institutions located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.







Thursday, April 16, 2009

Culinary Arts Competition Gives Teens a Taste of Chef's Work

A 'jaw-dropping' wedding cake on display at the State Leadership Meeting after the Competitive Recognition Event state championships held Sunday,  March 31. Photo by Carl Dameron

(FRESNO, Calif.) At 5 a.m. Sunday morning, almost 80 young people woke up in their hotel rooms and quickly got ready to work. By 6 a.m., donned in chef’s clothes, they were in the Sequoia Room of the Fresno Radisson Hotel, quickly setting up culinary masterpieces.

Their appetizers, breads, cakes, pastries and more would be judged solely on how they looked. decoration. Tasting good, at least in this competition, was optional.

“There were some great projects” said Michael Green, a 12th-grader from Cesar Chavez High School in Delano, who created an artistic culinary display. “I mean jaw-dropping, I can’t believe they are edible projects.”

Green, like the other students competing in Culinary Arts, spent all day Sunday in this competition. Although they wouldn’t know for sure who won until Tuesday, the judges had promised them some constructive feedback at the end of their evaluation.

That was important to Green. He hopes to work as a professional chef at a Las Vegas casino someday.

After these 78 participating students set up their culinary masterpieces, they left. Some were expected to join later-rising classmates for breakfast.

For all dress check began promptly at 8 a.m. In this important part of the competition FHA-HERO advisers made sure their uniforms were close to perfect.

Other competitions were in such topics as commercial food preparation, fashion design, and energy conservation. In all there were 21 competitions, which FHA-HERO calls Competitive Recognition Events.

For the Culinary Arts competitors, after the formal dress check in Valdez Hall for all FHA-HERO members, it was back to the Sequoia Room for yet another dress check.

“Then we stood by our projects for three hours, answering any questions the judges had,” said Natalie Garcia, who also attends Cesar Chavez High School. “After that, we came back out here, where we have been for hours more.”

“I can understand why the judges are taking so long,” Green said. “It would be hard for them to pick a winner.”

Michael and Natalie passed the time by entertaining each other, but by late afternoon fellow Culinary Arts competitor Toni Long, who attends Cordova High School in Rancho Cordova,was exhausted. She was so tired, she wondered why she had ever agreed with her adviser Diane  Goldman’s request she take part in a Competitive Regional Event for the second year in a row.

“I have enjoyed the culinary academy at my school,” Toni said. “I always volunteered for things FHA-HERO activities, so that is why I wanted to compete last year. This year, Mrs. Goldman convinced me I should do so again.”

But this is it. Toni looks forward to graduating in June and attending community college in fall. She will decide on a career later.

“Culinary Arts won’t be part of that future,” she says. “But it has helped me with that future.”

Seeing how FHA-HERO connects with their future is exactly what Janice DeBenedetti, the state adviser for FHA-HERO wants Toni and thousands of other students in the organization to do.

“FHA-HERO prepares students for success in life” she said.

There are more than 750 schools offering the Home Economics Careers and Technology program in California, serving more than 300,000 students. Many of these also offer the co-curricular student leadership and career development program FHA-HERO. For more information, call State Adviser Janice DeBenedetti at (916) 323-5025.



FHA-HERO Brings California Teens Together

Kirsten Stephen, dressed in her green alien costume, reads Aliens Like Underpants to preschoolers who attend the Hawk's Nest Preschool, a preschool on the campus of Silverado High School in Victorville. Teens who work with Kirsten at the school also participated in the story time. Earlier, Kirsten who is an advanced student in the child development courses offered at Silverado High School, read the same book and gave a similar lesson to judges for FHA-HERO's Child Development Competitive Recognition Event. Kirsten competed at the state level in this event, and while she did not win a trophy there, she gained the perhaps more valuable experience of meeting students from throughout the state with goals similar to hers.

(FRESNO, Calif.) Kirsten Stephan of Victorville and Rachel Peng of Millbrae didn’t know each other until the morning of Sunday, March 29. By the end of the day, the two 11th-graders were good friends.

A statewide competition in Child Development brought them together. The competition was one of many taking place in Fresno that day for FHA-HERO, a student co-curricular organization to which both girls belong.

Other competitions were in such topics as commercial food preparation, fashion design, and energy conservation. In all there were 20 competitions, which FHA-HERO calls Competitive Recognition Events.

Kirsten and Rachel competed in one of the more popular competitions. There were 28 other students involved in Child Development, and both of these girls were near the end. This left them the entire day to discuss their common experiences as high school students in FHA-HERO, and learn how, otherwise, their lives are quite different.

“I like meeting people and making new friends,” Kirsten said after the end of her competition. “After this week, I may not see Rachel again until next year’s State Leadership Meeting, but I’m looking forward to that already.”

“People from all over California are coming together and making friends,” Rachel said. “We may only have one connection, FHA-HERO, but we are all working towards the same goal and we are all learning together.”

Learning and working towards their future goals is exactly what Janice DeBenedetti, the state adviser for FHA-HERO wants Rachel, Kirsten and thousands of other students in the organization to do.

“FHA-HERO prepares students for success in life, both knowing how to work with others and learning specific skills they can use in a career,” she said.

Like many of the 400-plus students who were in Fresno for the competition and FHA-HERO’s State Leadership Meeting, the girls had traveled to Fresno the day before with their classmates. For Rachel, it was about a three hour drive from the Bay Area. For Kirsten, it was a five and a half hour drive from the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County.

That night they had stayed up late with friends, not just from their schools, but from their regions. FHA-HERO has previously given Rachel, a student at Mills High School, an opportunity to make friends with students from the Bay Area. As an FHA-HERO member at Silverado High School, Kirsten had previous opportunity to befriend students in this organization from throughout Southern California’s “Inland Empire.”

Sunday morning, they were up early. Dress check, where FHA-HERO advisers made sure their uniforms were close to perfect, began promptly at 8 a.m. This is where Kirsten and Rachel first met.

After dress check, the competitors walked from one part of the Fresno Convention Center to another, where two more FHA-HERO advisers went over the rules and procedures for the day. Judges were brought in, and students were then sent outside to wait their turn.

Around 10 a.m., one of the advisers called the first student in. While the rest waited outside, Student Number 1 gave her presentation.

In Child Development, the competition calls for students to give a dramatic presentation to young children that would help them learn. Up until several years ago, FHA-HERO brought in real children. For liability reasons, the competitors must now only pretend.

Most of the group, 29 teenage girls and one teenage boy, read children’s books for their presentation. A few of them made up their own stories or songs.

Kirsten was the very last student to give her presentation, and Rachel wasn’t far in front of her. This gave the two girls four or five hours to get to know each other.

Students usually decide in fall if they wish to participate in a Competitive Regional Event. They’ll need to spend the entire six months remaining to get ready if they want to do the best in the state. Both Rachel and Kirsten chose to compete in the Child Development event because they’re interested in teaching young children, and are reaching towards that goal by taking Child Development at their respective high schools.

In her course at Mills High School, Rachel learned there are statewide expectations as to what children will learn in school. That applies to high schools, where teachers in every subject must develop curriculums based on state standards. It also applies to preschools, where teachers plan lessons from the California Desired Preschool Results.

As if she were an actual preschool teacher, Rachel put together an entire day’s curriculum using the California Desired Preschool Results. She also listed the materials her “students” would use, and what she expected them to learn.

For the actual performance, Rachel made up and led her students in a song called “The Shape Song.” It was a little like Simon Says, but she’d brought colorful shapes for props and the song directed children to do things like “put your left hand on the yellow rectangle.”

Kirsten’s two Child Development courses give her first-hand knowledge of what working with young children is like. In one course, she works as a teacher’s aide in a first-grade class at Discovery School for the Arts Elementary School in Victorville. In another, she actually teaches preschool at Silverado’s own on-campus child care center.

From this experience, Kirsten knew that young children love aliens. She found a story titled Aliens Love Underpants, which is a fictional tale of an alien invasion of a family’s laundry while drying on their backyard clothesline.

To better convey the excitement of aliens landing in someone’s backyard, Kirsten dressed up as an alien, wearing lime green tights, a striped lime green and white shirt and grey shorts. She brought in “Marvin,” a loveable stuffed alien with three eyes and four arms, and read the story to him as well as to the “boys & girls” in her audience.

She also had a about a dozen brightly-colored paper aliens, each with anywhere from one to nine eyes. She led the children in counting the aliens’ eyes.

Winning trophies for their performance was not part of the overall experience for either of these girls. But it didn’t need to be.

“Winning isn’t the most important thing,” DeBenedetti told the students before the competitions had even begun. “The most important thing is that you enjoy and make the most of your time here.”

Kirsten and Rachel most certainly did.

There are more than 750 schools offering the Home Economics Careers and Technology program in California, serving more than 300,000 students. Many of these also offer the co-curricular student leadership and career development program FHA-HERO. For more information, call State Adviser Janice DeBenedetti at (916) 323-5025.


The Inland Empire - Down But Not Out

Rikke Van Johnson, San Bernardino Mayor Pro Tem and Inland Empire African American Chamber of Commerce President Carl Dameron plan for the future at the 2009 Inland Empire Black Summit.
125 Black leaders meet to plan for the future at the 2009 Inland Empire Black Summit in January of 2009..

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) While high unemployment and an imploding housing market has rocked the Inland Empire’s economy the future still holds bright for the region. 

“This is why Dameron Communications and I are committed to Riverside and San Bernardino Counties said, Carl M. Dameron, founder and creative director of Dameron Communications, the area’s leading advertising and public relations firm.”

 The Inland Empire is a metropolitan area made up of two counties, Riverside County and San Bernardino County. These counties are two of the largest in the continental United States and larger than 24 of the nation’s 50 states.

“Most metropolitan areas grow up around a central city, but the Inland Empire differs because it is made up of different size cities and unincorporated communities. It is known to be one of the most complex and growing regions in Southern California,” said Dameron.

The Inland Empire consists of 27,298 square miles, in eight different sub-regions; four in Riverside County, and four in San Bernardino County. Together they add up 50 cities and 158 unincorporated communities.

Riverside County: Riverside Central: Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona and Norco.; The Pass Area: Banning, Blythe, Calimesa and Beaumont; Palm Springs/Coachella Valley: Palm Springs, Coachella, La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City and Indio; and Temecula: Temecula, Murrieta, Perris, Hemet, Canyon Lake, Menifee, Lake Elsinore, San Jacinto, and Wildomar.

San Bernardino County: San Bernardino Central: San Bernardino, Rialto, Redlands, Loma Linda, Colton, Fontana, Highland, Yucaipa, Grand Terrace, and Big Bear Lake; The West End: Ontario, Chino, Chino Hills, Montclair, Pomona, Upland and Rancho Cucamonga; The High Desert; Victorville, Barstow, Apple Valley, Adelanto, Hesperia, and Needles; and Yucca Valley: Yucca Valley, 29 Palms and The 29 Palms Marine Training Base.

While the current unemployment rate in the Inland Empire is 12.2 percent ( due to the credit crunch and an end of the housing bubble the median income in the area is $54,991. This is  $509 less than two years ago.

According to local economic expert John Husing ( from 2000-2008 this metropolitan area added 888,562 people to the region to reach 4,144,088, a 2.8 percent compound growth rate, giving us the 14th largest population in the United States.

We are not just small towns either. Ten cities in the region now have more than 100,000 people including Riverside (296,842), San Bernardino (205,493), Fontana (188,498), Moreno Valley (183,860), Rancho Cucamonga (174,308), Ontario (173,690), Corona (147,428), Victorville (107,408), Temecula (101,057), and Murrieta (100,173).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the population in the region is very diverse: Hispanics make up; 45%, Whites: 39.8%, Blacks 8%, Asians: 5.7%, American Indian and Alaskan Native 1.3% and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.4%.




Why is the Inland Empire growing?

There are several reasons why the Inland Empire is growing and will continue to do so in the following years. First of all as John Husing says – CHEAP DIRT! 

This region has large areas of inexpensive undeveloped land ready to be built. Businesses can find real estate at very inexpensive prices. Warehouse spaces are under $1.00 square foot, retail spaces start under $2.00, and class A office spaces begin at $1.00.

Secondly, families move here to afford a home. The Inland Empire has acquired residents from surrounding counties.

According to DataQuick, the average median new and existing home prices in the following counties are: Orange County, $493,000; Ventura County, $425,000; San Diego County, $405,000; Los Angeles County, $403,500; Riverside County, $277,000; and San Bernardino County, $257,500.


 “With this region’s inexpensive house prices, people are opting to move not only to afford a home, but also to increase their disposable income,” said Dameron. For example, approximately 65 percent of IE residents work out of the area. Many people drive to Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties where salaries are 2-10 percent higher.

On the other hand, with prices not able to stabilize due to foreclosures, people who moved to the Inland Empire and lost their jobs, or could not keep up with their house payments are slowly moving from the San Bernardino/Rialto/Fontana, Riverside/Moreno Valley and Perris/Hemet area where homes are more expensive, to the outer high desert areas of Adelanto, Barstow, Desert Hot Springs, Twenty-Nine Palms, and Needles where homes are under $130,000.

Thirdly, the Inland Empire has an accommodating political environment for builders and business.

As mentioned above the undeveloped land is inexpensive, and as this metropolitan area becomes more affluent, developers are building and selling million-dollar homes in the first six of the area’s sub-regions.

The median home price is $830,000 in Chino Hills, a prosperous bedroom community on the western edge of San Bernardino County. The median income of the city’s 79,000 residents is $100,371, which surpasses that of Beverly Hills.

The region also has the major north, south, east, and west transportation corridors that link the nation’s food basket and Pacific Rim through rail, freeways, and airports.

Some of the nation's largest manufacturing companies have selected the Inland Empire for their distribution facilities: Toyota Motor Corporation's North American Parts and Logistics Distribution (NAPLD) center in Ontario, APL Logistics located in Rancho Cucamonga, just to mention some. (

Last but not least Riverside and San Bernardino County have lots of water. The Inland Empire relies on a mixture of groundwater and surface water from the State Water Project, local streams and reservoirs.

Recently the Governor of California proclaimed state of emergency due to water shortages. The Inland Empire Utilities Agency immediately took action by calling all households and businesses within the Inland Empire to step up their water conservation efforts. (

“Even though the area has been in a drought for the last three years, there are reservoirs and groundwater basins in San Bernardino, Colton, Highland, Big Bear, and Rialto that can supply the region during these periods” said Dameron.

To increase available water supply, the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (, in partnership with local water agencies, is working on two new projects in response to the statewide water shortages; water recycling and extreme water conservation activities.

Water recycling is expected to reduced by 10 percent the need for expensive imported water and at the same time help the area save money. The United States senate approved an omnibus appropriation bill that includes $5 million for the Inland Empire Regional water recycling projects. (

Extreme conservation activities are requested to increase 20 percent by the Governor’s proclamation, and if this percentage is not met other additional steps will be considered; mandatory water rationing, mandatory reductions in water use, just to mention a few.

About Dameron Communications Since 1989 Dameron Communications has creatively met the needs of our diverse client base locally, regionally and nationally. We are an award-winning agency that creates integrated marketing solutions to increase sales and profits, win elections, inform the public or gain acceptance of potentially controversial issues. We use our 20 years of communications knowledge and experience to advance our clients’ objectives.

Monday, April 13, 2009

FHA-HERO Pushes Teens to Excel

State winners of the Consumer Education, Senior Division Competitive Recognition Event, smile as they accept trophies for their work. This was one of 20 competitions sponsored annually by FHA-HERO, each of which culminated with a state championship on March 29. These winners are Akyra Frisch, second place, Kern Valley High School in Lake Isabella; Katie Jones, first place, Los Molinos High School in Los Molinos and Pofun Wang, third place, Rowland High School in Rowland Heights. Pofun and others in her chapter, including her advisers, say that FHA-HERO pushes them to excel, both through these competitions and in other aspects of the co-curricular student organization, offered alongside the state's Home Economics Careers and Technology courses.

(FRESNO, Calif.) “I love seeing a student who is shy in class come out of her shell and give a speech to a room full of strangers,” said Tracy Taylor, an advisor to Rowland High School’s FHA-HERO co-curricular student organization.

As she said this, Taylor smiled at her student, Pofun Wang. Pofun had earlier in the day taken part in the Senior Division Consumer Education competition, which required her to give a speech to three industry experts serving as judges, two FHA-HERO advisers who were running the competition and whom she had never met before, and others who were interested in what the students had to say.

“I was nervous,” Pofun said. “But I wanted to win.”

Two days later, Pofun smiled and accepted a third-place trophy for her effort. Her schoolmates Josh Cruz and Ujala Batool also received third-place trophies, as winners in the Prepared Speech and Job Application & Interview events. Joanna Guo, a ninth-grader at Rowland High School, took second place in the Junior Division of Menu Planning & Table Display.

Carnie Chung and Josh Huang, who attend Alvarado Intermediate School, took second in the Junior Division of Nutrition Education, rounding out the winning contingent from Rowland Heights at the Competitive Recognition Events state championship held in Fresno recently. This was part of the State Leadership Meeting, an annual leadership training event for members of FHA-HERO from throughout California.

There were other students from Rowland Heights who competed in the state championship. While they did not take home trophies, these students and others throughout the state have benefited from trying their best. So have the many students in FHA-HERO who did not compete, but who are active in the organization.

Taylor sees FHA-HERO helping her students in several ways. One is through the Competitive Recognition Events in which some of her students took part. Another is through the leadership experience more of her students gained at the State Leadership Meeting and by taking part in the Region 9 (Los Angeles/Orange County) meetings earlier in the year.

“They’re getting to meet many different people and build connections,” she said. “And in the competitions, it gives them a taste of their future. Now they know what they might face when they are older and looking for a job.”

A third benefit Taylor sees is building confidence in her students. At Rowland High School, some members already have a healthy dose of confidence, because they have taken part in FHA-HERO Competitive Recognition activities since they were seventh-graders at Alvarado Middle School.

Even if they have yet to bring home a trophy, they keep pushing forward. They hope that next year, they will do better.

“We like to compete,” said Rebecca Sun, a Rowland High School 10th-grader. “We like to win.”

Others, like Pofun, competed for the first time this year. Winning has certainly boosted her confidence.

This confidence is exactly what State FHA-HERO Adviser Janice DeBenedetti wants students in FHA-HERO to have.

“FHA-HERO builds confidence,” she said. “It prepares students for success in life, both knowing how to work with others and learning specific skills they can use in a career.”

There are more than 750 schools offering the Home Economics Careers and Technology program in California, serving more than 300,000 students. Many of these also offer the co-curricular student leadership and career development program FHA-HERO. For more information, call State Adviser Janice DeBenedetti at (916) 323-5025.